Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Soon after the introduction of new electoral boundaries prior to the 11th General Election, the UMNO supreme council arbitrarily appointed pro-tem committees in all of its divisions including the newly created ones. Election for office bearers were however postponed because according to them UMNO would prefer to focus their strength and attention towards facing the impending general election. Arbitrary were the appointments because some incumbents were then indiscriminately dropped from the new line up at the whim and behest of its new acting President and his inner circle.

Ibrahim Ali in Pasir Mas for instance was one of the casualties which as a result sparked intense rivalry in that division till today even after Ibrahim was sacked from the party.

Now that UMNO has successfully maneuvered and slithered their way through the 11th General Election, claiming a resounding victory, they are more confident to conduct their party polls. Pak Lah and Najib are eager to get endorsement from their party as President and Deputy elect. Already sparks has ignited and blows have been traded in UMNO AGM’s at branch level, with over 100 branches directed to reconvene their AGM for various problems, soon more chaos are expected in the AGM at divisional level to be held beginning this month. At this level not only will incumbents and aspirants with the help of their die-hard side kicks go after each others throats, divisional delegates from 191 divisions will also get the chance to nominate individuals for top party positions in the supreme council.

For the record UMNO AGM’s of the past have seen numerous chaotic incidents whether it be during or in the days prior to the annual meeting. A local state leader was shot dead prior to a divisional election, another got himself chopped to pieces in the act of wanting to immerse himself with supernatural powers to win party elections, shots have been discharged, fights erupted to name a few. These are becoming a normal practice in UMNO elections, a tradition deeply rooted in their party since the Mahathir days.

The finale of UMNO party polls would be during their general assembly. This time round intense fight are anticipated particularly for the 3 top positions of vice president. The incumbent vice presidents are Muhammad Taib and Mahyuddin Yassin, while the other incumbent Najib Tun Razak has been elevated as acting deputy president. Nominations for the post are expected to come in during divisional AGM’s, and some who are expected to offer themselves and join the fray includes Syed Hamid Albar, Ghani Othman, Shahrir Samad, Isa Samad, Mustapha Mohamad, Zaid Ibrahim including perhaps a few more.

Recently Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Gua Musang MP and a one time Presidential hopeful has reportedly offered himself for any top party position. Ku Li is expected to go for the top most post if he can afford to win enough nominations. Under UMNO’s new “ridiculous” ruling one has to garner at least 30% nomination to qualify for a challenge, an arduous task for a challenger. Whether Ku Li can muster enough support or simply fade away only time will tell. Likewise the Youth, Wanita and Puteri wings are also expected to see intense challenge.

All in all one would wonder why such intense and bitter rivalry occurs every time UMNO party polls are conducted. Why are there attempts made to block potential challengers and why political clout are vehemently applied to influence delegates? Take Ku Li for instance, study shows that his offer to lead the party arose out of wanting to see a capable and able personality lead the party and the country. It is no secret that Pak Lah does not fit well into this criterion. In fact Pak Lah admitted in a recent interview with Lorraine Kahn of CNN that he failed his statistics paper and as a result had to switch from doing a degree in economics to Islamic studies. Imagine a Finance Minister with such credentials!

Yet in UMNO polls meritocracy is never the order of the day. You don’t get elected on merit, you are accorded power simply because those on top feels that you deserve it. The wishes of the grassroots are not important. Its simply a case of survival of the fittest, the one with power, the one with the most to offer and the one closest to the one in power are the one’s who would surely secure high ranks. As a result irrational rules have to be introduced to deter any prospective challenge against the incumbent. Political influence has to be flexed to ensure those in power remains so. Any attempt to challenge those clinging on to power would be seen as an act of sabotage against the party’s so called stability. A glaring example was when Rafidah the Wanita head chided several former Puteri heads who were ambitious to challenge Wanita heads at divisional level. According to Rafidah these youngsters are willing to see UMNO disunited simply to satisfy their lust for power.

Although there are talks that Pak Lah’s and Najib’s camp don’t see eye to eye, but at the end of the day with all the dirty play, it will be obvious that, the dirty ones would surely end up as survivors. And who are the dirty ones’ if not those who are currently right on the top. roslansms@hotmail.com

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